Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Can You Say: "That's one mell of a hess!!!"



And that was at 2:30am.



Can I just express my gratitude that the reaping season is going to freeze tonight? I'm still going to bottle apple pie filling. I think. But at least the bulk of it is over.



The other day I was walking out through the garden to pick salsa ingredients. I was stumbling across downed brown corn stalks, naked ears of corn waiting to decompose and already withered bean plants. I couldn't help it but my first thought was, "I am so glad this garden is getting so empty!" Right on the heels of that thought, however, was the reminder of a day only a month or two earlier when I was once again walking out through the garden. My thought then (after the "Oh, crap, I hope I don't run into Alan's skunk!" thought), was, "Look how beautiful all this green stuff is. It's alive and growing and I love the freedom of going out and picking fresh food. I'm so glad Alan is willing to work so hard to provide that luxury!" Didn't take me long to change my tune, did it? Some people just keep hoping for the best of a dozen different worlds at the same time, I guess. From the pea picking festival to picking the one (1) pumpkin, Alan's garden has created a gazillion family memories and traditions and opportunities (not as many as Alan would like, I'm sure) to spend time together. A bunch of us did get together and help him weed it once this year! Some of the most fun times I've had have been having my girls (all four of them) come and help with the canning projects, too.



Anyway, Alan, here's your much neglected "Thank You"  for all your hard work.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Victims of the Great Trapper's Trap

I do think he's done for the season. I hope.



STILL AT LARGE



1 deer, as evidenced by tracks in the corn (will he buy an even bigger trap???)

1 LARGE Skunk, sneaky, agile, whereabouts still unknown



CAUGHT

1 very mad gray cat, let loose

1 small skunk, no longer in this realm

1 very mad gray cat, let loose

12 skunk birds, relocated to various locations

1 squirrel, died of causes unknown

1 very dumb and mad gray cat, relocated to a more trap-free environment

1 neighbor's dog, returned to owner

1 gray striped cat, relocated to Amber's

1 squirrel, still alive at this point (2nd one)

1 squirrel (3rd one)

1 claustrophobic, psychotic cat, last seen running into the sunset

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Faith

There is an underlying connection between both of my previous ramblings and a comment that was left has hit on it so I decided I'd officially join them.



There was the sunlight shining through the trees validating my existence and reminding me I am always heard. Then there was the light from Alan's headlights that guided even a little scrub oak like myself back to where I needed to be (even though I didn't realize it was not where I thought I was headed). Knowing the extreme level to which I am directionally challenged, I would have had a total meltdown if I'd ended up at the original campsite and couldn't see any familiar faces. I would have entered camp all Tigger-bouncy because of my pride in completing my little trek and ended up all Eeyore-droopy when I realized those I cared about weren't there to share my exhileration.



Sometimes roads lead us where we need to be, not to where we thought we wanted to be.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Real Self-Esteem Boosting Weekend!

Alan and I went camping with our neighbors. They like going to the Unitas and wanted to take us with them this time. I wasn't too excited, sorry to say. What's camping without my family? I checked my attitude at the door before I shut and locked it, however, and ended up having a fun time. It was scary for a minute when there was a swing hanging from a tree right by where we parked the trailer. I had a few heartaches knowing the grandkids would be having a ball with that. But I soon regained my self-control.



It was dark when we first got there and, of course, Labor Day Weekend, so there were a lot of campers already filling up the good spots. We pulled in the last one we could see, which was not very ideal. Our neighbor's wife was not happy. Did I say not happy? She wanted to be closer to the lake. He just wanted to make camp before it got any darker. I think if we hadn't been there and could have been called as witnesses, they would have killed each other before the night was over. I, on the other hand, was ecstatic because I'm pretty sure there were bats flying around and I know for sure there was a live little mouse running around in the fire pit. And I was wearing pants with loose legs. I could feel the little rodent running up my pant legs every time I turned by back on the pit. Anyway, we went to bed. The men went riding 4-wheelers in the morning with no definite returning-home time. By 10:45am the other trailer was still quiet so I decided to go on a short little hike. Before Alan had left on his ride, he told me the lake was only about 1/4 mile away and was only about 3/4 mile long. I figured that would be an energizing walk - about 1 1/2 miles round trip. Does anyone see anything wrong here except the fact I was making an assumption based on 'facts' (and I use the term loosely) given to me by Alan, who had also 'assumed'?



I had started to pack a little backpack with some granola bars and water and jolly ranchers but decided against taking it as it made me look a little too 'boy scoutish'. After all, I was just going on a short hike around the lake and I wasn't planning on getting lost or being gone over night. I could carry the bottle of water without any problem and put a few jolly ranchers in my jacket pocket. When I grabbed my cell phone (we had sporadic service), I noticed it only had one bar of battery left so I figured it wasn't worth taking. I plugged it into the charger. I left Alan a note telling him I was walking towards the water and the time I was leaving and headed out. 



Alan was right that the lake was only about 1/4 mile away. I hiked across to the far side first figuring that way I'd come back on our side of the lake and should just come right back to the trailer (second wrong assumption). I hadn't gone far down the other side when I thought it would be a good idea to get a drink of water. That's when I realized I'd forgotten the water. Oops. I did have the jolly ranchers in my jacket pocket. Besides, it was only going to be a short hike. I would be fine. Forget the fact I had no water, no cell phone and no partner.



On the far side of the lake there were trails up through the trees I could take when the shore got too steep or rocky. On the near side of the lake, that wasn't the case. Or at lease I didn't feel as comfortable taking them because there were more people camping on the near side and I was afraid I would walk into someone's camp. I'd walked quite a ways on the far side when I started to doubt Alan's information as to the length of Whitney Lake. And, the lake wasn't a basic shape like I had assumed it was. It's more amoeba-like and so I had to go out around everyone of those appendages. All those little outcroppings must have added at least a half mile onto the entire trek. At least. I was starting to think I should turn around; that perhaps I wasn't going to be able to hike all around the lake. At the last couple of appendages I'd say to myself, "I'll go around this one and if I can't see the end of the lake I'll turn around." A lot of places were steep and rocky and I 'slipped and slid' my way across. I found myself thinking, "Yeah, you're so smart. You won't ride the 4-wheelers without a helmet but you'll go off hiking by yourself, without any water, fall down on the rocks and die or get traumatic brain injury." Oh, well.



Finally I saw the end. False end. Sort of. I had to walk a little farther in order to cross over this amoeba's tail. The lake didn't really come to an 'end' as I was thinking it would. It just trickled down and broke off into three or four little streams. I got across there okay and thought I was home free as I headed up the near side of the lake.



I had been good about landmarks the whole way. I had even actually been able to see our campsite off and on and even now could see it and knew the end was in sight. Ha, ha. This was a very lopsided amoeba lake as there were more appendages on this side; more muddy places I had to cross.



One of those muddy places found me sliding the last three feet right up to the water's edge. By the time I came to a stop, my feet were buried up to the tongues of my shoes in the mud. That made my shoes slippery and so I slipped into the water a couple of times trying to cross over this little spot. There had been a guy fishing just up ahead and I'd watched him watching me. When I finally made it over to where he was and was walking behind him, he greeted me with a silly grin (bottom lip fat with chew) and asked me how I was doing. Duh. I gave him the 'thumbs up' sign and said I was just great, knowing he'd been watching me even when I was on the other side and through the mud sliding and all. Then he asks, "How's the fishing over there?" Duh. Like I said, he's been watching me long enough to know I haven't put a pole in the water. Come to think of it, maybe he meant when I about fell in the water!



After rounding a few more appendages, I see our campsite. Or rather I see our trailers. I 'assumed' they were at 'our' campsite. The same campsite I'd left earlier. In the back of my head, however, I wondered why the headlights were on in Alan's truck. Also I could tell the neighbor's trailer had been moved and was facing a different direction. Then I thought, they've found a better spot for his wife and they're moving the trailers. "Lucky for me I'll make it back before they move!", I thought (third wrong assumption). I was excited, though, because I had made it all around the lake and so shoved the inconsistencies to the back of my mind.



The final trek to the trailer was the worst. I could see a trail going up the hill but it would have meant going around another appendage and so I opted to go straight up the hill. Not a good choice. That little stretch was the most strenuous of the whole hike. When I topped the hill, however, I was confused. I know I was winded and was wondering if the confusion was because I was actually having a stroke or getting ready to pass out or something. I was pretty sure that I recognized Alan smirking and pointing at me as I topped the hill but there wasn't a flagpole at our last camp. This was not the firepit where I'd watched the little mouse do his dance last night. Alan and the neighbor weren't 'moving' camp - they'd already 'moved' camp! I walked into a totally unfamiliar campsite with our trailers parked in it. That was weird.



Well, it had been two hours almost to the minute since I'd left on my little jaunt. I didn't realize how long I'd been gone. I guess everyone had taken turns looking for me on the 4-wheelers and during one of the searches, they'd stumbled upon this empty campsite. The only reason I'd headed for this spot instead of the old campsite was because the headlights of Alan's truck had caught my attention. I didn't realize they were in a different spot because I knew I had always been able to see our trailers.



So, now I'm trying to process the fact that Alan moved without leaving a forwarding address. Talk about going to school and coming home and finding the family has moved! When I questioned him, he said, "Well I looked for you but couldn't find you, so we moved the trailer." I can't quite wrap my head around that. Something just doesn't feel right. Then he said, "I called and left a message on your cell phone so if you ever got service, you'd know." I quickly pointed out what a good idea that was since my cell phone was in the trailer charging. He was just as quick to point out that I had 'stupid' written on my forehead for going off and leaving it . . . and going by myself . . . with no water . . .



And, yes, it did rain during this campout, too.

Hear I Am! Here I Am!

As part of our campout in the Unitas this weekend, I went on a hike by myself (see post above). Much of the trail I followed went through forested areas and then would open up on beautiful spreading meadows. It was amazing. There was one small clearing that was protected by tall pine trees and quakies. Some older trees had fallen down and created a natural barrier around a small spot that had obviously been used by campers. The sun wasn't quite straight up yet and so it was struggling to get through the pines. It was actually quite spiritual for me. As I looked around, I couldn't help wondering how often I am like the tallest of the pine trees and can feel the light and heat of the sun readily. I then compared that to how much more often I feel like the tiny scrub oaks and Charlie Brown Christmas trees that are struggling to get the smallest ray of light and be acknowledged as to their existence.



Joshua Kadison has a song entitled "Invisible Man". In the song he talks about waking up one morning with a strange feeling that he can't identify. He goes to the mirror to confirm the fact he is still there. Then he goes over to the window and opens it and shouts out of it, "Here I am! Here I am!" Lights start coming on all around and people yell out their windows, "Will the crazy man go back to sleep?" He just stands at his window feeling so good and laughing because someone actually heard what he said and so he knows he really does exist and has not been forgotten. Then he says,

"Well it's no big thing, no revelation

No answer to these lives we lead

But I think I do know one thing

Sometimes I think we all need to say

"Here I am, here I am, here I am"

When life makes us feel like the invisible man".
That's kind of how I felt in those trees. I guess even on the days I'm a scrub oak, I can shout, "Here I am" and know I am heard.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Gotta Do It

Alan is possessed! However, he has merged his new role as mighty trapper with that of mighty matchmaker.



IFA has been plagued by a squirrel. So, who you gonna call???? Alan, of course. He goes home to get his trap so he can save the day at IFA. Low and behold, what does he find? He's already got a squirrel in the trap!
He gets the brilliant idea to use his garden squirrel as bait for his IFA squirrel. I didn't dare ask him if he had deduced whether they were of the opposite sex or not. Some things are just best left unasked . . . and unknown. Well, I hate to admit it, but his little scheme worked.
Alan can now take credit for his first attempt at matchmaking. I wonder how many people in arranged marriages feel . . . 'trapped'?? Anyway, I guess I can no longer refer to Alan as unromantic!

PS: Krisy says there's a dead skunk in the middle of the road by their house. Maybe Alan should have tried his truck instead of the trap??

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Swine Flu



Sometimes Alan comes across as a hypochondriac. Someone (I'm sure in the medical profession) sent him this picture as a warning sign that you might have Swine (I mean H1N1) Flu. I suppose I should start monitoring how many times he purposely looks in the mirror, huh? LY